Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Doom Patrol #4 Review and **SPOILERS**

Be Proud of Who You Are

Writer: Gerard Way 
Artist & Cover: Nick Derington 
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain 
Letterer: Todd Klein 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: January 25, 2017


After too-long of a wait, the moment has finally arrived: Doom Patrol #4 is here! The last issue was the only one I’ve ever legitimately given a 10/10 score, and my anticipation for the follow-up was tremendous. Surely the delay will dampen my enthusiasm, right? Find out when you read my review, right here!

Explain It!

The issue opens with Sam, Casey Brinke’s one-time EMT partner before she was canned, which is unusual because I’d pretty much written him off already as a supporting character for Casey. Yet here he is, clearly part of the proceedings, and annoyed to be woken up in what looks like a child’s bedroom by the pervasive thrum of a chant that repeats “KABEMOK” over and over. Sam gets out of bed and walks towards the source of this noise: his own son Lucius, performing some arcane rite on the floor of his bedroom. It’s a pretty great approximation of a surly teenager’s room: posters of fake heavy metal bands (all DC Comics-related!) cover the walls, and a sleeveless denim jacket adorned with patches hangs on the back of a chair. Sam isn’t thrilled about his son doing creepy rituals, and he retreads a familiar argument (as parents and teenagers are wont to do) until Lucius has an outburst that belies how much he misses her mother. Seems she skipped out sometimes recently, and Sam blurts that she’s never coming back. So that went about as well as most conversations between fathers and sons.
At that very moment, Larry, Cliff, and the weirdo negative-alien thing arrive in the Negative Space and hover before N’Hal, the Negative Entitly. Sort of looks like a giant television remote control. It beckons the trio to touch its face, and upon doing so they’re transported somewhere—probably within the giant remote control—to be judged before N’Hal and a bunch of negative spirits that look like Larry’s pal, but with differently-shaped heads. Meanwhile, we find Niles Caulder is spying on an awakening Casey and her pink, furry pal Fugg through a massive television screen. Casey is in some kind of holding cell, and her right leg is missing from the knee down (remember, this happened as she left DannyLand last issue, and then was kidnapped by the Vectra? Of course you do). The Niles Caulder robot that ran amuck for a couple of panels last issue is there, in shambles, so Casey takes its remaining leg and jams it onto her stump. As Ricardo shows up out of nowhere and asks about Danny, some lightning jumps out of Casey’s hand and zaps her new metal foot. That’s when Fugg plays a recording about Casey’s Bio-Surge, one of several powers she is unaware of possessing, and opens up its chest to remove an instructional cassette—not unlike Teddy Ruxpin, except this seems to be more biological and involves a lot of mucus. Casey pops the tape back into Fugg with a SKLORP and it instructs her to use her Bio-Surge to zap the cell open. And to do that, she has to simulate a bowel movement. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
Back in the Negative Space, N’Hal decides that though Larry broke one of their cardinal rules, he should remain bonded with the Negative Spirit because they make a cute couple. Cliff petitions on Larry’s behalf, but when asked Larry says he wants the same thing because it allows him to be a hero. N’Hal is impressed and decides to give Larry a gift: while he releases the Negative Spirit to save the day and his body is dormant, he will have only the most awesome dreams that encompass an entire lifetime, and conclude when the Neg Man shloops back into his body. Now this seems like it might be a bum deal. Who likes to be woken up from a good dream? But I suppose if it can end naturally at the same time that N-Man returns, it should leave Larry feeling refreshed and chipper. Somehow I don’t think such things are in store for any member of the beleaguered Doom Patrol. Over at whatever Niles Caulderian compound Casey and the gang are escaping from, they nearly bump into a pack of Vectra before finding a severely damaged Danny the Ambulance, being held against his will to spew the citizens of DannyLand into a grinder so they can become interstellar fast food burgers (I do hope this isn’t your first issue of the series.) Danny tells his story, which involves him traversing the stars with Doom Patrol alum Crazy Jane, until someone used Danny the Brick to commit many murders (if not outright genocide.) This split up Crazy Jane and Danny, and gave him the idea to start making his fake people tangible in the first place—beginning with Casey Brinke, DannyLand’s Golden Age comic book character! So that explains…that? Casey puts on an awesome costume Danny’s prepared for her, and then drives the busted ambulance right out of the side of what turns out to be a Vectra-ish spaceship, which works just fine because why wouldn’t it? Our epilogue reveals a mysterious humanoid figure that seems to possess influence over the lesser Vectra, one who has evil plans in store for Casey and her pals—and his name is Torminox! And he kind of looks like a He-Man figure.
Some of this series’ momentum was lost in this delay between issues #3 an #4, which I suppose is unavoidable. But this was still a really fun issue that clicked a lot of tumblers into place and set us up for a great conflict in a couple of issues. I was surprised to see Sam at the beginning of the issue, and to learn so much about his family in relatively short space, but I’m cool with it. I assume Lucius will invoke some kind of demon or dryad that’s gonna throw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans. I really loved a lot of the little touches, like Fugg’s cassette-playing chest, or the DC Comics heavy metal band posters in Lucius’ bedroom. If this had come out directly after the last issue, I’d probably be more enthusiastic, but I am glad to have read this comic book and I’m still excited for more. Just don’t make me have to jump to the trade edition this late in the arc!

Bits and Pieces:

Though the time gap between the last issue and this one diminished some of the momentum, this is a great issue that answers a ton of nagging questions without introducing too many more. There's funny moments, gross moments, confusing moments...not a ton of action, but there's a bunch of heavy metal band names based on DC Comics properties. So that'll keep you busy for a couple of minutes.


1 comment:

  1. i feel like this issue finally pulled all the plot threads together into a coherent story and we are good to go now. Best issue so far for me and Derrington is killing it. Dont mind whenever it appears if it's going to be this good